RUMFORD — Residents reacted swiftly to help after a fire late Sunday destroyed three apartment buildings, forced several people to leap to safety and sent six people to the hospital.

Aubuchon Hardware Manager Kevin Jamison opened the store doors at 12:30 a.m. Monday so people could bring donations for victims of Sunday night’s fire in Rumford. “Donations started rolling in as soon as I walked in the door,” said Jamison, pictured here with his son, Bentlee. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Kevin Jamison, manager of Aubuchon Hardware in Rumford, who began organizing a relief effort while firefighters were still battling the blaze, said people have donated all day.

“We’re packed right now,” he said late Monday, with so many coming in with goods for the displaced that he already had about 200 winter coats on hand.

It isn’t clear how many people lived in the three-story buildings at 105 and 101 Hancock St. near the intersection of Rumford Avenue. The Red Cross of Maine said it is working with 14 displaced tenants and expects more.

To escape the growing fire, Police Chief Tony Milligan said a man and two women leaped from the third floor.

“That was their only option,” he said. “There was no escape other than to jump.”

Six people were taken to Rumford Hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation and injuries from jumping from the building, police said. None of them have been identified.

Kevin Jamison, manager of Aubuchon Hardware at 65 Falmouth St. in Rumford, looks over the collection of donated items on Monday for the victims of an overnight fire on Hancock Street. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Jamison said he doesn’t know details about most of the injured, but has heard that one seriously injured woman was undergoing surgery because of back injuries.

By late afternoon, he said, a couple of displaced families had come to his store and got some coats and a few other items to get by. They planned to return Tuesday once they get their bearings.

The fire began about 11 p.m. Sunday at 105 Hancock St. and quickly raced through the building and another at 101 Hancock St., plus a third building that was vacant at 89 Rumford Ave.

Central Maine Power cut the electricity to the area to help firefighters, officials said, and the area remained without power for about an hour.

Jamison said he raced to his store at 65 Falmouth St. to begin preparing to help. When he arrived, he said, he didn’t have any power — but he did have flashlights so he got to work anyway.

He posted on Facebook that he wanted anyone dealing with the fire “to know we are with them and they are (in) our thoughts. We will stay River Valley strong tonight!”

Amanda Royce, left, and her sister, Krystal Royce bring donations to Aubuchon Hardware in Rumford on Monday. Store manager Kevin Jamison started a collection for victims of the fire. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

He opened the store for victims and firefighters who needed a chance to warm up on a cold night.

Firefighters were called from a number of towns, including Bethel, Stoneham, Greenwood and Woodstock.

On Monday, people from all over the area brought items to the hardware store to help residents who had lost everything.

“Donations started rolling in as soon as I walked in the door,” Jamison said.

Jamison has some experience trying to help. He managed to collect about 15 truckloads of items after a December fire on Spruce Street. Local churches got the excess donations, he said, and if there’s anything left over this time it will also be given away.

Other businesses and organizations in town are also lending a hand to fire victims, including the Praise Assembly of God Church and Ralph’s Store at 341 Cumberland St.

The three apartment buildings are a total loss, police said.

Investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal were called to the scene. The fire marshal and the Rumford Police Criminal Investigation Division are looking into the cause of the blaze.

The owner of the three apartment buildings is Rumford Falls Real Estate LLC, which has been around since at least 2003, state records show. Town officials said the company is owned by Jim Barnett, who also owns Ralph’s Store. He could not be reached late Monday.

Staff writer Steve Collins contributed to this report.

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